Given the increasing amount of focus on cloud-based storage, I wrote on the topic of What They Don't Tell You About Storing Data in the Clouds earlier this month to outline some of the problems with storing data in the clouds that typically don't get mentioned by cloud storage providers.
At around the same time, Matthew Dornquast, the CEO of Code 42 Software, wrote in with a list of common myths about cloud backup. Code 42 Software is the developer behind CrashPlan, which offers secure online and offsite backup for consumers and businesses. A majority of Dornquast's arguments are contingent on using his company's versatile range of backup services, and I would urge readers to weigh the assertions based on relevance to their own business processes.
However, I do think that it makes an excellent checklist for SMBs who may be looking for an online cloud vendor. I've listed the six "myths" with my own remarks below.
Synchronization is backup
Dornquast: We love sync, but that's not backup. Synchronization automatically replicates your changes (and mistakes!) to all locations. Imagine you were retouching a photo, cropped it, and saved it. Months later, you wished you could undo that crop, you're out of luck. Your original is gone as it was synchronized.
Mah: This is indeed a common point of confusion. Unlike synchronization, data backups allow for a separation that offers protection against casual sabotage or inadvertent data corruption.
All online backup providers are about the same
Dornquast: All backup solutions are not created equal. The ability to back up external drives and what the solution does with your deleted files are just two of the many differences which, if not made aware of, can cost you extremely important files.
Mah: SMBs should perform due diligence in their evaluation of an online backup provider, tabulating their storage services against what is offered by vendors.
Initial online backup takes forever
Dornquast: While this can be true for many online backup solutions, some options offer customers the ability to "seed" their backup cloud by having a drive shipped overnight to their data centers. This can shave months off your initial backup time.
Mah: We have previously reported about Mozy offering a service where hard disk drives can be shipped to SMBs for faster backups; similar services are increasingly being offered.
It takes weeks to get your files back
Dornquast: This too is true for most solutions. However, there are solutions which offer the option to overnight your data to you for a small fee if you've lost everything. Better still, follow point #6 below and you'll have a copy nearby for free.
Mah: I am not in a position to comment on the reliability of such services. Rather than taking a vendor's word on this, though, why not check by including this as part of your SMB's periodic data recovery tests.
Online backup is expensive
Dornquast: $5/month/computer can really add up, especially with most households having several computers. Four computers (three computers and media server) costs nearly $250 a year. However, some solutions provide unlimited storage for all your computers for as low as $6/month and enable families to create their own private backup clouds for free.
Mah: Cost is a relative matter, and should be viewed in the contact of a backup vendor's track record.
Online backup is enough
Dornquast: Online backup is better than nothing, but putting all your files and photos in one basket is risky. Two destinations are infinitely better than one, so have backup onsite and offsite. Look for a plan that offers multi-destination backups, allowing you to have all of your data in as many locations as you needed.
Mah: SMBs serious about their backup needs should read an earlier blog I wrote about Building Multiple Layers of Backup for Greater Reliability, Faster Restores where I outlined how SMBs may put together a robust backup infrastructure to balance near line availability and greater data protection by means of geographical separation.
Do feel free to share your backup experiences in the comments section below.